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5 Tips for Surviving Black Friday

As marketers, it’s hard not to get excited about the biggest shopping day of the year… from a very safe distance. From deciphering ad design to getting along with the crowds, we’ve unleashed our creative, and marketing strategy experience, to help make you a victor of Black Friday. To be clear, this is a rare guide for you, not your brand. We’ve built these tips from a little misappropriated knowledge from our social, strategy, and creative team thought leaders.

FOMO No More

Your mom, sister, cousin and 90 year old nana all updated Facebook with a picture of themselves waiting for Target to open. All of a sudden you get this feeling in the pit of your stomach that you’re missing out on something. You throw on some sweat pants and run to the mall to line up. Beware the ‘fear of missing out,’ commonly referred to as FOMO. In addition to being a trigger that drives many to phone checking social media addictions, FOMO and social proof together can drive you to some odd behaviors – like waiting outside a store in the wee hours of the morning. Most users only put positive things on social media so you might be seeing the fun family selfie, but what you don’t see is the giant line, the cold from waiting in said line, and the non-existent restrooms. Don’t let your social family trick you into going out to shop if you’ve already made the decision to stay in. -Carolanne, Social Media Storyteller  

 Know the Deal Before you put your Pants On

You have the newspaper circulars lining your living room floor, with scissors and a pen on standby. With beautiful layouts, enormous type, and bright, bold colors announcing “Big Screen TVs, Buy One Get Three Free, 50% Off, Our Lowest Prices Ever,” every type of deal you can think of is screaming your name and you want it all. Now, you’re up at 4am, about to jump in the car to speed down to the closest Target for that sweet deal… Did you read the fine print first? Many of these seemingly great deals come with an asterisk linked to a whole bunch of legalese. The large type and bold colors draw you in, but because these retailers have to cover themselves to make sure you’re getting the deal in the exact way they want, they include fine print on their advertisements as an almost afterthought – especially at 4am. Don’t take Black Friday advertisements at face value. Read the fine print. – Jim, Creative Director  

Better Service and the Pygmalion Effect

There’s very little relaxation in the Black Friday experience, and maybe you’re expecting some less-than-stellar service. Can making that expectation known sway the customer support you receive for better or worse? A little ‘do unto others’ and a little ‘self-fulfilling prophecy,’ the Pygmalion effect helps explain how your expressed expectations effect the behavior of others to rise (or fall) to your challenge. From a position of gratitude, not entitlement, share your appreciation for the customer service staff while highlighting that you’ve always had a great experience with them to reaffirm the existing company’s expectation in them. You may notice an upswing in service quality for yourself and some of those behind you in line. – Marc, Digital Marketing Strategist  

Using Social Media for Real Time Updates

You’ve been in line waiting at the electronics department for hours waiting for the latest iPad and by the time you get up to the cashier, it’s gone! Use your smart phone and social networks to your advantage to avoid this disappointment. You can search on Twitter for other people waiting in the same line and see the updates they send out while waiting in the same line. If the store you’re visiting is a more mom and pop type, they may even have someone live tweeting or Snapchat snapping door buster sale updates. -Liam, Accounts Manager  

Don’t Let a “Sunk Cost” Sink You

You’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and precious sanity waiting in line for that one item that your kid just has to have this holiday season. Doors open, you hustle in, elbow your way through the mobs, race to the correct aisle, and… “They’re sold out? They’re $&$##% sold out?!” Ok, deep breaths. The world has not spun off its axis. That time is lost, and as tempting as it might be to push further in the hopes of finding a lesser deal to make the whole bonanza “worth your time,” it’s a mistake. Don’t run to the next aisle and find yourself saying, “I mean, $3 off this hairdryer is prettttty sweet. I think Grandma might just need one of these!” Don’t let the “sunk cost” of your fruitless morning lure you down a rabbit hole of regrettable purchases. Economists call this the “Sunk Cost Fallacy,” and it can affect everything from business decisions to staying in the theater for a movie you’re hating so that you “get your money’s worth.” You gotta know when to fold ‘em. Go home, relax, and wait for Cyber Monday. -Nic, Director of Business Strategy  

Treat Yourself

Here’s a busy digital entrepreneur’s perspective on Black Friday.
  • Grab some friends, go do a fun activity such as a lighted horse-drawn ride with warm adult cocoa.
  • Take the time to get your holiday decorating complete and invite some friends over. Go for a great hike around a lake.
  • Relax and enjoy your weekend.
  • Do some surfing on the web for unique gift ideas for friends and family.
When cruising around the web and these unique stores you’ve found, “wish list” some items for easy recall and purchase. Then, 3-days later on Cyber Monday, go online and do all your Christmas shopping. You can enjoy most of the savings for Black Friday without the insanity of throngs of public. Of course, another great sport for Black Friday is to go to a mall with the most restaurants and bars and to visit one of them to imbibe one holiday cheer for every retail store you visit. It adds to the people watching entertainment. -Sean Owen, CEO  

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